Will the NCAA be forced to skip Santa Clara County?
With the Stanford Cardinal a lock to qualify to host the first two rounds of the Women’s NCAA Tournament, Monday’s ban of events larger than 1,000 people in Santa Clara Country, Calif. raises questions about how the NCAA and individual universities will proceed. Santa Clara County, where Stanford University is located, had already been aggressive in its discussion of COVID-19 preventative measures but issued the ban at a press conference on March 9. The ban will last for three weeks.
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The Bay Area county has 37 known cases of coronavirus infection. A 60-year-old resident of the county who dealt with prior health conditions became California’s second death. The county believes that she contracted the virus within the community rather than via traveling or contact with a traveler.
On Sunday, media members met with Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott just prior to the Pac-12 Women’s Basketball Tournament championship game. Scott responded to questions about the possible effect on athletic events as they stood at that time.
“It’s an evolving situation every day,” Scott said. “There’s new guidance. There’s new policies that our schools have. We’re trying to calibrate that as best we can to follow what public health officials are recommending, but understanding the importance of these events to our student-athletes and to our schools as well. So I don’t think I can really predict exactly what’s going to happen too far into the future except to say at the moment, from a Pac-12 perspective, we are planning on the men’s basketball tournaments taking place as contemplated and the same is true as of this morning in our communication with the NCAA. The same is true of the NCAA. They’re planning on each of the events in each of the venues.”
Stanford, clearly in position to host by all bracketology projections, had already suspended classes and limited all large gatherings to one-third of the capacity of their venues. Over the weekend, the Pac-12 wrestling championships were held in Maples Pavilion.
UPDATE MARCH 11, 1:35 PM EST:
“In the case of Stanford, they affected a university policy and have allowed for certain exceptions and are dealing with certain events on a case-by-case basis,” Scott said Sunday. “The Pac-12 wrestling championship is a good example of that. So the events take place. All the teams that were supposed to be there were there. The event came off very well. But they did limit the crowd size. They had a social distancing policy on that campus that suggested they were going to allow, I think it was 2100 fans to come in, as opposed to the full capacity. That’s a good example of where we’ve worked with our schools to make sure the events take place.”
Whether events would now take place with fewer than 1,000 people rather than the 2,100 allowed into the venue for wrestling is the new question. Large events in public venues are still taking place in other Bay Area counties. While San Francisco has limited the size of events in public buildings, Golden State Warriors games and other events in private buildings have not been affected.
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